Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day and Lots to be Thankful For

Today is just another day like most other days in the life of a PCV but today is Thanksgiving and there are many things that I am thankful for. Yesterday I swore in as a PCV so I am thankful I have made it through another intensive and hard PC training. I had my LPI (language proficiency interview) and I received a score of intermediate mid which means I learned enough to swear in. It's also the same level I received when I swore in as a PCV in Albania so that makes me hopeful that my language will be just as good by the time I leave Morocco as when I left Albania, inshallah. I am so happy that I had a wonderful CBT site and sitemates and even though we parted ways today I know that they will be involved in the next 2 years of PC life. I can't thank everyone who participated in training and forget to mention my amazing LCF, Haddou. Without Haddou, training would have been very difficult and not nearly as entertaining.

I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had so far in my life. Serving as a PCV in Albania, now serving as a PCV in Morocco, being surrounded by amazing friends, having the opportunity to learn different languages and cultures first hand, traveling around the world, and having a family who supports me through it all. I wish I was better at telling people how much they mean to me on a more regular basis but I guess you have to start somewhere. So far all of you out there, and you know who you are, thank you for being a part of my life, for influencing my life, for teaching me the important things in life and thank you for supporting me through thick and thin.

Tomorrow I will make it to my final site and start my service. I am excited to get there and start things. There are going to be some long days ahead but I'm ready. There are so many things I have yet to learn but this is why I'm here. I was ready for a new challenge and Morocco has indeed given me challenges. I got this whole PC thing. Two years, no problem. Time to go save the world..... again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's Get this Show on the Road!

PST is almost over….. again. I think that I have mentioned that PST has not been as bad as I thought it would be the 2nd time around. True it has been draining as the last time was but I have felt better prepared to handle the stress that comes with learning a new language, living in an entirely new culture and living while every move I make is monitored. This time I have known when it was time for me to barricade myself in my room and take a mental break from it all. It may not have been the best move to integrate in my family but it worked well for me and my host family loves me. At least I think so ☺

We returned from site visit last week and met up in Fes before all heading back to our CBT sites. Everyone had a great site visit for the most part. Only a few people had concerns and complaints about their future homes. A huge success since there are so many of us. Everyone is now excited to get to their sites and start working. Roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty so to speak. My site is going to be amazing and I know there will be lots of work to do. Hopefully not long after I get down there, my new dar shbab will open up and I’ll have even more work to keep it all going. The thing I worry about most is how conservative my site is. I will not be able to wear shirts above my elbow if I want to be respected in my town and want to teach any kids at all. It will take some getting used to but it will be fine.

Right now we are still in our CBTs. Here in mine it has been crazy since this last week the king came to open the new dar shbab among other things. We all were supposed to do individual activities this week which has been close to impossible since everyone is too preoccupied standing in the streets to get a glimpse of the king. We made some progress the other day and were able to get a few things done but not all of us have. To add to the craziness, next week is leid kbir – the biggest celebration that Morocco has. We will not have school for two days on account of we will be with our families eating sheep, and visiting the entire neighborhood where there will be more sheep to eat. It will be interesting to see how the whole thing goes. There will be pictures later for sure.

Overall, that is about all. Lots of things are going on but not too much to mention at the moment. Next week we will be leaving our CBT’s and gathering all together for some last minute sessions before swearing in on the 24th in Rabat! It’s so exciting to almost be done with all this and get going. I’m also really excited to see all the PCT’s from the SBD sector. I haven’t seen really any of them since leaving for CBT. It’s going to be a long week but it will all be worth it once I’m a PCV again.

And my new home is......

I wrote this blog right after site placement and am now posting for your enjoyment....

Site placement day has come and gone. For anyone who has ever gone through site placement day, you know the amount of excitement, anxiety, and fear that every PCT has that day. This site placement day was different from my last one in Albania in several good ways. I had absolutely no clue where I was going to be this time. I didn’t know north, south, mountains, desert, anything! I knew this time that no matter where my site would end up being it was up to me to make it a good site. Sites are what you make them and this time I knew that. I also knew that I had told my program managers, aka the A team, everything that was important to me in order to have a successful service. My life was in their hands so to speak.

On Friday, all of us YD volunteers tried to concentrate on all our sessions through the day to get to our 6pm site announcements. It was a very long day. After some admin and health sessions, we had to sit through committee elections (I’m the 2nd alternative for VAC) and then we had over an hour to kill before our fates would be decided. A group of us decided to walk to McDonalds to kill pre-site announcement jitters. On our walk back, I started getting super excited.

Site announcement was delayed, as it happens in every case, by about an hour. Before they gave us our envelopes with our future homes, they went through some details for our site visits which over half of us would be leaving for the next morning. Finally the moment came to get a simple white envelope with a small strip of paper in it with our names, regions and sites. To draw out the final moment even longer, they handed them out to us instructing us to put them on our heads so that we could all open them together. After what seems life forever, Abdelghanni finally gave the signal to open the envelopes.

Chaos erupted as we all tore open our envelopes and screamed out the names of our final sites. Most of us, myself included, had no idea where their site was but just seeing a name made it real. They put up a map of Morocco with all of our pictures next to our sites after a few minutes and we all ran up to it to figure out where they placed us. Now imagine my surprise when I went up to the board and saw my name, one of two, at a site right next to the Atlantic. How have I been so lucky two times in a row?? I have no idea but I was so happy that I would once again have my body of water for those stressful days. My surprise was well granted because I was told numerous times that volunteers are not placed on the ocean. My new site mate, Beth, is also from Wisconsin. We are definitely the two luckiest trainees in our YD staaj.

Saturday morning we left early for our new site, which for security reasons, I will refer to as Mango. We made it as far as Marrakesh on Saturday and then traveled the rest of the way Sunday. Today is my first full day in Mango and I am so excited to see the town and meet the people. Something I should mention about my town: Darija is not the first language and so I will now have to learn Tashellhet. Most people will speak Darija so at least I will be able to communicate. My host family is super sweet and I’m happy that they will help me integrate once I move down here after swearing-in. There’s a million other things to say about Mango but I will save them for later.